Awareness of Food Waste Can Help Us Appreciate Holiday Meals

Bryce Hannibal, Texas A&M University

Americans celebrate the winter holidays in many ways, which typically include an abundance of food, drinks, desserts – and waste. Food waste is receiving increasing attention from managers, activists, policymakers and scholars, who call it a global social problem. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, wealthy nations waste nearly as much food every year as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.

Efforts to reduce food waste tend to focus on consumption practices, with less attention to the production and distribution side. But according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a large proportion of food loss and waste in the United States occurs at the farm-to-retail level, with about 133 billion pounds of food available at retailers going uneaten.

In a recent study, my colleague Arnold Vedlitz and I surveyed nearly 1,400 Americans about their views on food waste. We wanted to know what the public understood about the role that intermediary organizations such as grocery stores, cafeterias and restaurants play in this problem. We also wanted to see whether concern about food waste reflected awareness of the water-energy-food nexus – the interconnections between food production, energy and water.

Office of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree

Organizational food waste

Organizations lose or waste food for many reasons. Grocery stores seek to keep shelves full and offer visually appealing produce, which can lead to over-ordering and throwing out items with cosmetic flaws. The Agriculture Department estimates that between 11 and 12 percent of fresh foods and meats are discarded or lost from U.S. retail outlets and supermarkets.

Restaurants and cafeterias also contribute significantly through inventory losses, food preparation waste, food scraps not suitable for serving, foods prepared but not served, and foods consumers purchase but do not finish.

We used a nationally representative survey to see whether individuals were concerned about organizational food waste, and would support policies intended to reduce it. In response to the question “How concerned are you about the amount of food wasted by grocery stores, restaurants and cafeterias?” approximately 75 percent of respondents said they were were concerned, very concerned or extremely concerned.

Our results also showed that women, older people, members of lower-income households and those who leaned politically liberal all expressed higher levels of concern about food wasted by organizations.

Interconnections between food, energy and water

Next we examined whether concern about food waste was tied to use of other natural resources. Growing, producing, transporting, treating and disposing of food consumes significant quantities of energy and water.

Producing a typical Thanksgiving meal, for example, requires corn and wheat to feed turkeys; acres of farmland to grow vegetables such as beans and potatoes; water to irrigate the produce and hydrate the turkeys; and energy to pump water, harvest crops and transport the food to consumers.

When food is wasted, these resources are also wasted when they could have been put to better use elsewhere. In a previous study, we examined the extent to which individuals understand or recognize the interconnections between water, energy and food, and created a “nexus awareness index.” Awareness of these interconnections means that people recognize that food, energy and water are all intertwined at some level.

We used this awareness index in our new study to determine whether recognizing food-water and food-energy connections influenced respondents’ concern about food waste. Our results showed with very high confidence that higher awareness of these linkages was correlated with higher concern about food waste.

To explore what actions people would take or support to reduce food waste, we focused on two policy options: building compost facilities for large-scale commercial and private residential use, and increasing state or municipal licensing fees for organizations that do not develop and follow approved food waste reduction plans. Respondents who reported high concern about food waste were willing to support waste reduction policies, and those with higher awareness of food-water and food-energy links showed the strongest support for both policies.

Avoiding holiday food waste

We draw two primary conclusions from this study. First, highlighting the amounts of wasted water, energy and money embedded in food waste may help food waste issues reach a wider audience and build support for action.

Second, increasing awareness and concern about food waste may increase action and behavioral changes that reduce waste. Researchers have long been concerned about findings that show a disconnect between people’s intentions and their corresponding actions. Some food waste research examining this issue shows that intentions to reduce food waste have a mixed and generally weak impact on actual consumer practices.

Reducing food waste on a broad scale is a significant challenge. Our results suggest that increasing concern about food waste may motivate people to be more willing to act on this problem. Others suggest that regular reminders and nudges for consumers may be effective. Intentional, or purposeful, consumption with waste in mind – for example, showing people how to take waste into account as they shop for food – may also help. Best practices will likely differ among various groups of people and geographic regions.

Holiday meals are a good time to be mindful of food waste. Many are served in people’s homes, and most hosts wouldn’t dream of throwing away perfectly good leftovers instead of using them the next day. Although restaurants typically throw away leftovers that consumers purchase but don’t finish, many customers will take theirs home with a little encouragement. Especially once they know how much energy and water it took to grow those cranberries and fatten the turkey.The Conversation

Bryce Hannibal, Research Scientist and Lecturer, Texas A&M University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Disgusting Food Museum Opens in Sweden

In general, “don’t yuck other’s yum” is a good advice to follow, but sometimes we still can’t help arguing whether Vegemite is a national treasure or something that shouldn’t qualify as a food. This dilemma is the premise behind Sweden’s new Disgusting Food Museum.

Located in Malmö, the museum features 80 notorious food items from all over the world, with the opportunity to smell and taste some of these “disgusting” things. Australia contributes three items –  the Vegemite spread, musk sticks and witchetty grubs – which are exhibited alongside Sweden’s surstömming or fermented fish, China’s stinky tofu, Thailand’s durian fruit, maggot-infested cheese casu marzu from Sardinia, and more.

“Disgusting Food Museum invites visitors to explore the world of food and challenge their notions of what is and what isn’t edible,” the Museum said on its website. “Could changing our ideas of disgust help us embrace the environmentally sustainable foods of the future?”

The museum will be open until January 27 from Wednesday to Sunday, with a surcharge of 185kr (AU$28) per adult. If you want to take it to another level, you can also do the group tasting experience for 300kr (AU$46) per person.

Brisbane CBD Scores Free Acai Bowls This Monday

The start of the week is always rough – but next week you can cure your Monday blues with wholesome free breakfast at the CBD. Yes, free.

Co-working space company Wework is finally expanding to Brisbane after opening nine locations in Sydney and Melbourne. To celebrate its new space on 310 Edward Street, Wework is bringing a pop-up in Queen Street Mall to give away free acai bowls and cold-pressed coffee on November 19.

The experiential pop-up, which will run from 7 to 11am, will also give you the chance to get an impression of the space and be in the running for a free year-long access to a working spot in the CBD space.

Now you have your Monday morning sorted.

Nut Butters: Health Facts

Nut butters are one of those rare foods that are both tasty and healthy. With high protein, healthy fat and low sugar, they can truly turn your bread and dishes around. But which nut is the best? Below we break down every type of nut butter for your consideration.


The classic one. Peanut butter is rich in protein and monounsaturated fats, which support heart health and keep you full for hours. Studies also show that eating peanut butter can help reduce risk of diabetes. It also has biotin to promote brain health, iron and folate to prevent anemia, and zinc for improved immune system.



Out of all the nuts, almonds are the best source of healthy fats, fibre and calcium. They also have a high amount of omega-3 and vitamin E to help fight inflammation. However, the texture tends to be grittier than the other butters.



Cashew has one of the lowest amounts of protein and fibre, but it makes it up with low cholesterol and sodium content as well as a sweeter taste. Cashews are also a good source of minerals like zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese to keep your muscles, brain and health working well.



It’s not Nutella, but it’s just as good. Just like cashews, hazelnuts are rich in minerals to support bodily functions. They are also one of the best sources of unsaturated fat.



Macadamia makes for the most calorie-dense butter on this list – perfect if you’re trying to gain weight. Thanks to its high healthy monounsaturated fat content, it is both indulgent and filling.



This butter is the best choice if you’re looking to increase your good (HDL) cholesterol and lower bad (LDL) cholesterol. It’s also rich in fibre, protein and potassium – an ounce of pistachio butter contains the same amount of potassium as a banana!



Out of all the nuts, walnut is the most exceptional source of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, which are great for lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Walnut consumption is also associated with better management of weight and diabetes as well as lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.


Which one will you be trying?

Recipes: Best Smoothie Bowls

Smoothie bowls are perfect for the spring-summer season – sweet, chilled, refreshing, easy to digest and packed with nutrition. Here are some of our favourite recipes…

Blueberry Coconut Smoothie Bowl by Running on Real Food

Besides the regular ingredients, such as coconut juice and almond milk, this smoothie bowl also contains veggies like zucchini and cauliflower. But don’t fret – it’s still sweet and creamy as a smoothie bowl should be!


Mango Smoothie Bowl by I Heart Naptime

Get tropical with mangoes! You can top off the bowl with chia seeds, almond flakes and/or other chops of your fruit of choice.


Chocolate Almond Banana Smoothie by Good Life Eats

Breakfast that looks and tastes like a dessert? Yes please! If you like chocolate, this one is not to be missed.


Clean Green Smoothie Bowl by Downshiftology

Gorgeous without the fuss, this bowl’s got its pretty colours from leafy greens and avocado.


Berry, Peach and Coconut Smoothie Bowl by Life Made Simple Bakes

Instead of coconut milk, this recipe uses Greek yogurt to create a fulfilling bowl. Top that with the varied flavours from peach, strawberry and pineapple chunks, and you’re good to go!


Grapefruit Smoothie Bowl by Healthy Grocery Girl

Tangy and juicy with a touch of crunchy texture from the pumpkin seeds and buckwheat groats.


Apple Pie Smoothie Bowl by Floating Kitchen

As the name suggests, apple is the main star of this bowl – and it’s supported by dates, granola and caramel sauce to make for a great morning meal.







Recipes: Best Pastries

Want to bake something special this weekend? We’ve curated some of the best pastries from all around the world, complete with the recipes. Try them out and thank us later…

Profiteroles by Mon Petit Four

profiteroles mon petit four

Coming from the same family as éclairs, beignet and croquembouche, a profiterole is a choux pastry ball with cream and chocolate sauce. You can serve them warm with freshly piped cream as is, or add a scoop of ice cream on the side.


Mazarin by Bethany Murphy, Better Together

mazarin better together

Hailing from Sweden, mazarin is a small tart with buttery crust, almond filling and beautiful sugar icing on top. You can also use ground almonds in place of almond paste and flour.


Galette by Anisa Sabet

galette anisa sabet

Galette could be described as a lovechild of pie and crusty cake. With the toppings, you can channel your creativity and go any way you want – from fruity (berries, peaches, pears, plums) to sweet (almond, honey, ice cream) and savoury (mushroom, potato, cheese, onion). Make a big one to share or shape the crust for a single portion size – it’s your choice!


Cannoli by My Three Seasons

cannoli my three seasons

Fried pastry dough, ricotta cheese, a touch of chocolate and powdered sugar – what’s not to love? You can make your own cannoli shells from scratch, or get some from the store to fry.


Baklava by Deliciously Yum

Baklava Deliciously Yum

Flaky phyllo sheets! Tasty nut filling! Honey golden brown gorgeousness! You can replace (or complement) walnuts with pistachios or almonds.


Inipit by Ang Sarap

Raymund Ang Sarap inipit

A Filipino favourite, this sponge cake/pastry is filled with potato or ube custard in the middle. Take it to the next level by experimenting with the sponge cake part.












Marrickville’s Barzaari to Open a Second Restaurant in Chippendale

Inner West’s beloved Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Barzaari is opening a new branch in Chippendale.

The Marrickville joint will open the doors of its new branch at the former Kensington Street Social space in the Old Clare Hotel on October 30.

Barzaari Chippendale will be a 120-seater with “raw and exposed” interior.

Just like the original Addison Road place, the Chippendale eatery will bring a modern take on Cyprus, Syrian, Lebanese, and Egyptian cuisines with a menu of shared small and large plates. The bar will also have its own menu, covering snacks such as oysters, sliced bottarga and stinging nettle and white-pepper parcels.

“People can pop in for snacks or drinks and then move to the table for a larger meal,” Darryl Martin, executive chef and co-owner of Barzaari with Andrew Jordanou and hotelier Loh Lik Peng told Broadsheet.

Kensington Street Social will be closing on October 21, around six months after the departure of British chef Jason Atherton.